Monday, November 30, 2009

The Story of NITEL for launch in Lagos

A book with forward by the Executive Vice Chairman, (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and entitled ‘The Story of NITEL: An Archetype Government Enterprise’ is now set for launch in Lagos this weekend.

The book written by the Managing Editor of eWorld Magazine, Mr. Aaron Ukodie, was reviewed by industry notable, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, the vice chairman, Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN).

Published by Ajomedia Limited, the book presentation, he said, would take place at Oceanview, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Saturday, December 5, this year.

According to Ukodie, the book which equally revealed how Senate President, David Mark fought with late General Sanni Abacha when, the former was Communications Minister, over NITEL aircraft among others formed part of the book, even as how the once vibrant and viable government telecommunications company was wrecked by its operators and supervisors, while government looked on.

Ukodie pointed out that the book gives a detailed account of the roles of various actors in the now widely known NITEL saga and quagmire.

Based on the foreward by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the book is a researched work on the processes that reduced the former telecom monopoly to a beggarly status and offers a case study of how many public organisations are run in Nigeria, and how national interests and well being are oftentimes sacrificed on the altars of personal and sectional interests.

Ndukwe said in his forward that the book is well researched, factual and written in a vivid form.
Chief Ezekiel Fatoye, a one time Executive Director of NITEL who has also read through the book agrees with Ndukwe, when he said “you remind us of things long forgotten; the book is well written.”

Readers, he said, will find in the book the roles played by various key individuals such as Nasir el-Rufai, who as a one time NITEL contractor went on later as Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) to labour to bring NITEL to its knees.

The legendary roles played by the German Managing Director of Siemens, Eduard Seidel, who in his days was referred by NITEL staff as alternate CEO of the company because of his influence on several Ministers of Communications and CEOs of NITEL. You will read how a magazine report put spanners on a contract signed between late Chief Moshood Abiola and General M uhammadu Buhari.

Additionally, readers will also find how Mark, arguably the most powerful Minister of Communications in Nigeria, till date influenced events in NITEL, ran NITEL contracts through anticipatory approvals, in many cases based on flimsy excuses and had his ways with General Ibrahim Babangida.

Ukodie noted that the objective of writing the book is to also support the argument that governments, especially those in Africa, and particularly in Nigeria, are not the best managers of enterprises.

“It is not because such governments lack the requisite expertise within its rank, but largely because political patronages stand in the way of effective and efficient management of enterprises; and again, because government business is often perceived as no man’s business by the majority of government officials,” he asserted.

The book to be reviewed by Engineer Titi Omo-Ettu, Vice Chairman of Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN) and Chairman of the Lagos Executive Cyberschuul, who himself was a switching manager at NITEL, at the time when the company made headway in its development efforts.

Ukodie is regarded as an authority in the unveiling story of NITEL having followed the company from its formative year in 1985, coinciding on the year he began his journalism career with the Guardian reporting communications, the job he has continued to do ever since.

The book contains not only his experiences and researches, but also comments and expose by notable figures such as former Minister of Communications, now Commissioner of the NCC, Chief Olawale Ige.

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